Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
On June 2, the Missouri Conservation Commission held a public meeting in Jefferson City. During the meeting, the Commission approved the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) initial plan for an elk hunting season. If the Missouri elk population continues to grow at its projected rate, an elk-hunting season could occur in Missouri as soon as October 2020.
The current plan for a Missouri elk hunt includes a nine-day archery and nine-day firearms season that will occur in October and December. Presently, only Missouri residents will be eligible to apply for the random elk permit lottery. MDC has not yet determined the number of permits that will be available through the lottery system, but at least one permit will be reserved for landowners with 20 acres or more of property within the elk restoration zone that includes parts of Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties. Applicants will pay a $10 application fee, and successfully drawn hunters will be required to purchase a $50 elk permit.
Though once native throughout Missouri, elk were extirpated from the state during the late 1800s due to unregulated market hunters. Thankfully, regulations based on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation have created conditions that have allowed state wildlife management agencies to restore elk populations in a number of states. Missouri’s restoration efforts began in 2011, when elk were translocated from Kentucky’s herd. MDC hopes to reach and maintain a target population of 500 individual elk.
“It has been over 40 years since the Conservation Commission has approved a new hunting season,” said Aaron Jeffries, MDC’s Deputy Director of Outreach and Policy. “Missouri’s elk restoration project is an incredible achievement for Missouri that was made possible because of dedicated staff, landowners, and conservation partners. There are definitely exciting times.”
MDC has held a state-wide public comment period and several local public hearings around the elk restoration zone to discuss elk hunting with local stakeholders. They are also hosting another public comment period regarding the proposed elk-hunting framework that is open until August 31, 2019.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?